For the past 21 months I have felt every emotion imaginable to say the least. I felt tremendous joy at the birth of our second child, fear when he stopped breathing hours after, anger with God and everyone around me for something I couldn't control, guilt that I didn't speak up for something I could control, uncertainty if he would survive at all. We rode a roller coaster of emotions from one moment to the next when Finley's life hung in the balance. However, to say that these were the worst times would be a complete lie. It was the months to follow, until very recently actually, that held the darkest times of my life. Fear is a funny thing. We all need fear to survive. A healthy dose of fear. My fear, however, has consumed me. I should probably start at the beginning.
On January 22, 2007 I went to my routine doctor's appointment and, being 39 weeks with occasional high blood pressure, we were discussing induction. My doctor decided that it wouldn't be a bad idea to start that evening, so my mom and I headed home to get everything ready. Before leaving the hospital, my doctor changed my plans just a little by asking me to deliver in a different hospital. He just felt better at this particular hospital because they were more "established". So, we went to register with Labor and Delivery so I would have a room. In the registration lobby, we saw the cutest baby stroller. We went over to take a peek and discovered that the baby inside had Down's Syndrome. We smiled and congratulated the new mommy and were on our way. This, for me, is where it all began. I cannot describe how I felt that afternoon. I looked at my mother and teared up. I said, "That was a bad omen mom." Of course, I have been known to be a little emotional, so on we went. Fast forward to that evening, we dropped J.T. off at aunt Lissa's house with his new Diego pajamas among other things (guilt is so powerful with my debit card). There were lots of hugs and kisses, more guilt on my part, lots of tears from me as well. I would later find out that after we left, at dinner, my niece Emily prayed for God to be with baby Finn.
God is still in the small things.
Our first night at the hospital was uneventful. The next morning I decided to get an epidural before the pain got too bad. My labor progressed at a normal rate and I started feeling the need to push. I told my nurse when she came back in the room as to not inconvenience her with the call light. She very politely blew me off and because I didn't want her to be upset with me, I waited a while before mentioning it again. She was, after all, an experienced nurse and probably knew what she was talking about. Finally, a few hours later, she called my doctor and it was time to have a baby. My doctor came in and 2 pushes later, we had our beautiful baby boy. He cried on cue, had pink little lips... a perfect baby boy. They wrapped him up and we all took turns holding him. John, my mother, and I all held that perfect baby and took pictures galore. Now, remember my "omen" that morning.... I had, for the rest of that day, told my mom I just didn't feel right. "I just have a bad feeling." My mom looked at me holding my precious boy and said, "See, Meredith, everything was just perfect." I conceded and decided to be grateful for my newest addition. The newborn nursery came to take Finley down the hall to give him a bath and give us time to rest and eat before J.T. arrived to meet his new brother. And then our lives changed. Forever.
A nurse practitioner came to tell us that Finley had stopped breathing in the nursery. She asked a lot of questions. "It's probably just an infection." Something about blood work. Being a nurse, I know that these things happen more than most people realize. I tried not to worry. I had to be strong for John, so he wouldn't worry too much. The practitioner left. I called my best friend Jaime to ask what the possibilities were. I worried. I cried. I didn't eat.
Not too long after that, the NNP came back in to tell us that Finley stopped breathing multiple times since our first meeting and they were admitting him to the NICU. I couldn't get out of bed yet but John could go with him. John had been with Finley for most of this time and I can only pray that the Lord will heal him from what he saw that night. No one should ever watch their child be resuscitated. No one should ever have to watch it more than once. John watched multiple times. By the time I was taken in a wheelchair to the unit, they were in fullblown CPR and intubating my baby. (a breathing tube to breathe for him with a ventilator) The NNP told us that apnea (to stop breathing) with no other symptoms in a newborn points to neonatal stroke. We would need a CT scan. It would be hours before they could fit him in. I don't know if you have ever seen my husband in action, but Finley was in and out of CT within the hour after John was done with them. (Good job baby!)
This is where our journey really began. We couldn't go with Finley to CT and J.T., Jimmy, and Melissa had arrived in the meantime. Jimmy and John stayed with J.T. My mom, Melissa and I stayed in my new room to pray. I remember hearing my mom and Melissa praying over me. I remember asking my mom if God would really take my baby. I remember feeling heat and cold and anger and an overwhelming sadness. Before we were given the results, I talked it out as reasonably as I could. Apnea is a sign of infection - babies get infections all the time - we are good people - we are christians - he couldn't have had a stroke - it's an infection, it's an infection, God it has to be an infection, please. We all prayed again. I heard voices, but I approached my God at my weakest moment. I prayed the hardest prayer I have ever prayed.
God, if it is your will to take my baby, then I want your will to be done. But please remember that I am a mother. Please remember that my heart is breaking. Please give me your peace.
Moments after I prayed this prayer, we returned to the NICU for the results of the CT. "I am so sorry. Finley has had a stroke....." I remember my face on fire, so hot, blood rushing in my ears. Everything was in slow motion. People were looking at me and their lips were moving.... no sound.. breathe. Pain. Breathe.
That night was a blur. I remember walking in on John praying out loud over Finley in the NICU (thought I was dreaming), I remember kissing Finley and telling him things that will forever be between him and me, I remember praying one more time for peace before I was forced, seriously, to take Ambien.
You know how when something bad happens, you dream about it all night long. The restless, awful, evil feeling that ensues. You awake and wonder what really happened and what you dreamed up.
... a peace that passes all understanding.
I cannot describe the peace that came over me. But I can tell you that it was not the Ambien. It is good, but not that good.
As you all know, Finley survived. Our fair-haired soldier. He is a fighter. He came into this world fighting and hasn't stopped since.
And neither has satan.
The closer we draw to God, the harder satan fights to keep us away.
I can honestly say that in my life, more often that not, he has been successful.
Here's how he works. A few months after Finley's birth, J.T. had a knot in his neck. The nurse in me knows that this is probably an enlarged lymphnode from a strep infection since J.T. is prone to strep. However, the nurse in me was sleep deprived, scared, anxious, barely making it from one day to the next with a baby with colic. Satan knows this. He knows I am clinging to my babies for fear of losing them. So he invades my thoughts.
probably lymphoma, you will bury your "healthy" son, you've been neglecting him to take care of your "sick" son
you wouldn't have a "sick" son if you had been a good mother, if you had stood up to your nurse, took up for your baby
everyone blames you, your husband blames you, your only job was to carry a healthy baby, to be a good mother
you're a failure
He is the father of lies. He will breathe down your neck at your weakest moment and he hits below the belt. He is a deceiver. He will kill your hopes and dreams if you let him and turn your eyes to anything but the only One who matters. This is what he has done to me. This is the only thing he can do.
Want to know why?
Because the battle for my soul was fought before I was conceived. My fears and failures were fully known to the One who made me. The one who died for me. The one who is living within me.
He is still on his throne.
Today I felt the Lord's presence like I feel my toddler's tugging at my pants. Urging me to trust in Him. My grace is sufficient for you...
I have to let go of the fear. Fearing for my children will not change their future. Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
What am I afraid of? That if I stop worrying about them, then God will forget about them?
I have to let go of the guilt. I know the plans that I have for you..
If I stop feeling guilty, then what??? I realized today that my God is so much bigger... bigger than a nurse or an infection or a stroke! Nothing that I could've done would have changed my little boy's life.... because he's not mine. He is God's. And nothing I could ever do or want for him compares to the plans of the God I serve. He makes no mistake. How blessed are we to serve a God who is able!!!
If I could go back and change one thing, or any thing, I can't say that I would. We are where we are and who we are because of what our Lord has done for us. His grace IS sufficient. Looking back, I wish I had realized these truths months ago and given God the glory through these times instead of sulking in self-pity and remorse. However, starting today, I am telling Satan "No more!" I serve a God who knows my thoughts and everything I have ever done.... and he has forgiven me! I am free..